by Prof. N. Natarajan
Fichte, the German philosopher wrote about thesis, antithesis and synthesis as a process of informed development of ideas.
In general terms a thesis is a starting point, an antithesis is an opposite response to it and synthesis, the final informed outcome. The completion of the process is not easy even in normal times. However in the current atmosphere, every thesis proposed by the government is countered by the opponents without scrutiny or assessment, just for the sake of scoring brownie points
Today we see it even in the war against the deadly universal enemy, COVID 19 where a bipolar approach is simply weakening the ability of our country to face the enemy together.
The strategy adopted by most governments in the world in the fight against corona virus is Lockdown. There is a logic to it and WHO has supported it. However it a necessary evil since the entire world was unprepared to treat a sudden spurt of patients attacked by the new virus. There were not enough hospital beds, emergency equipment and infrastructure. Authorities were scared of the contagious nature of the virus and they did not have any drugs to treat it or vaccines to prevent it. The situation was desperate and needed immediate action to halt the spurt in cases.
However, the jury is out on the success of the strategy. The current situation has admittedly disrupted our way of life severely and created uneasiness especially if the lockdown were to continue indefinitely. The most affluent sections of the society have the least will power to endure inconvenience even in trivial matters. Ironically the poorest, who are the worst sufferers, have taken it stoically. Only a section of unorganized migrant workers are agitated due to their desperate plight. They want to go home…that’s all! Their helpless condition has only exposed 73 years of ill treatment in Independent India, having been deprived of the basic fundamental right to life guaranteed by the country’s constitution.
In the meanwhile a counter theory of herd immunity has has been advanced by dissenters. The proponents of this theory are dead against a lockdown. They want the virus to run its cruel course till a vaccine is developed and is ready for use. The proponents of this antithesis dismiss the interim loss of many lives as inconsequential. The counter highlights the economic disaster that the lockdown is likely to bring about. It has the support of a vocal minority with deep pockets.
Dailies and weeklies with financial and economic news content, that promote stock markets, wealth management and investment businesses, are emerging as strong lobbies in support of ending the lockdown immediately. They are wailing 24×7 about how markets, the rupee, ad world, auto industry, metals, FMCG etc have collapsed and how the rising debt is causing the death of mutual funds and companies. They are canvassing for government dole-outs to ward off mass liquidation.
Market pundits see the lockdown and not the Corona-19 virus as the bigger villain. They fail to see that post COVID 19, the world has little chance return to the Eldorado that it was.They have not realized that there is a compelling need re-route state resources to address immediately the basic health infrastructure needs of the poor. The world must have adequate affordable infrastructure and not just health insurance to solve the problem. This will apply to all countries of the world thanks to the deadly virus.
The synthesis that is now emerging is gradual lifting of the lockdown in stages. The fear is that this will be like falling between two stools. Only the future will tell, if there is still an audience.